June 19 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come on us…from the days of the kings of Assyria until today. In all that has happened to us, you have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly.” ~Nehemiah 9:32-33

The community rising from Israel’s proverbial ashes has set aside time for worship and the Word, as well as for fasting and feasting. At one service, the entire history of the community is recounted. Remembering the past was—and still is—an important part of worship. When we recall what God has done, we focus on who He is. He reveals Himself in His actions, which is why the biblical narrative is chock full of stories. God-stories, by definition, tell us so much about God! Worship recalls the past—the creation, the chaos (fall), the call (of Abraham), the crossing (Exodus), the community, the cross, the new community, and so forth. Each tale reveals God’s person and gives us cause to praise!

God’s mercy is what is most apparent in this particular recounting. The narrative is salted with expressions like, “But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (v. 9:17). And, “Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them” (v. 9:19). And “when they were oppressed they cried to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers” (v. 9:27). And “when they cried to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time” (v. 9:28). The entire story is one of God showing compassion on His people after they had fallen away from Him again and again. This is a far cry from the modern-day myth that the Old Testament is a book of doom and gloom! Yes, there is a lot of discipline in these pages, but it’s in response to a lot of rebellion! And there is always a whole lot of mercy!

As you reflect on your own life story—marked as it no doubt is by periods of failure—be sure to recount God’s mercy and grace. How often He has been patient with us! How often He has borne with us during doubt! How often He has forgiven us though we failed Him yet again! How often He has restored us after we, like His people of old, have fallen! We may say with the ancient worshipping community: “But in your great mercy you did not put an end to [us] or abandon [us], for you are a gracious and merciful God” (Neh. 9:31). Our God is gracious, compassionate, and slow to anger! May He be praised today!

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.